Lisa Henline, associate registrar at UNCG since February, is responsible for coordinating the commencement ceremony this year. And it’s extra-special for her. In addition to the day marking her first Spartan commencement, Henline’s daughter, Katherine Paige Henline, will graduate. She is a psychology major with a sign-language minor.
“This is crunch time, right now,” Henline said in an interview late last week. The Commencement Committee had met earlier in the day, in preparation for the May 4 ceremony at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Before joining UNCG, Henline was at Nortel at the Research Triangle Park for more than 20 years, working in education and training, planning curriculum, scheduling courses, arranging customer visits, creating distance-learning opportunities, managing global programs and coordinating special events.
But a UNCG Commencement is a uniquely special, large event.
“Hundreds of details are being handled behind the scenes,” she says. She explains that a lot of processes were already in place – a lot of tried-and-true infrastructure. And as she is new to Commencement, she has relied on the expertise of many others. “I appreciate their support and guidance.”
Behind the scenes, there is a lot most wouldn’t know.
“We time every aspect of commencement.” she says. They have looked at making the processional time shorter – in other words, less time spent marching – so the graduating students and well-wishers can focus on the ceremony itself.
To do that, this year there will be three instead of two rows of seating for the graduating students on the Coliseum floor. There will be five lines of undergraduate students in the processional.
To help the morning run smoothly, about 80 volunteers help. They are an integral part of its smooth operation each year. And the student marshals help a lot, in different roles, she explains.
Various groups will gather at their respective rooms and areas in the hours before the ceremony, in the Coliseum Complex. So they can be of help with directions, the volunteers and marshals have a “walk-through” the week before and get accustomed to the various gathering spots. They’ll all be ready for the big morning.
And her daughter will be among those in the processional. “It won’t escape me.”
She reminisces about their first time touring the campus – she was impressed by the beauty and the academics. Katherine has had certain academic and career goals – she has volunteered for a long time at retirement communities. Those with dementia – and helping them communicate – are her focus. “I can’t help but be proud of what she’s become.”
So will she be able to watch her daughter graduate? It won’t be from the audience, she says – but she certainly will see it. “I’ll get to see it from a completely different perspective.”
By Mike Harris